The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) recently awarded $130 million in grants to 41 recipients, including Greenlink, through its Low- or No-Emission (Low-No) Grant program. The Low-No grant program funds the deployment of transit buses and infrastructure for the purchase or lease of zero-emission and low-emission transit buses and supporting facilities. Greenlink received $5,277,325 to purchase six 35-foot Proterra Catalyst E2 battery electric buses and associated charging equipment to meet the ridership demands linked to service improvements outlined in its current Transit Development Plan. Greenlink was the only agency in SC to be awarded funding.
Greenlink’s current fleet includes four 40-foot Proterra Catalyst E2 electric buses, which were purchased using Low-No funding awarded in 2017 and deployed in June 2019. The new 35-foot buses will provide better maneuverability, allowing Greenlink to utilize them on routes with narrower streets. Greenlink will order the new buses and schedule their delivery date to coincide with the completion of the new maintenance facility project in 2023.
Greenlink’s 2017 Comprehensive Operations Analysis (COA) and the 2018 Transit Development Plan (TDP) outline service expansion plans that directly respond to the community’s need for improvements that interconnect the places where people live, work and play. Greenlink successfully implemented the COA last summer and is currently in the process of implementing the TDP, which includes extending weekday and Saturday service hours, adding Sunday service and increasing service frequency from one hour to 30 minutes. Greenlink will expand Monday through Saturday service hours to 5:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. in 2020, and the Low-No grant provides Greenlink with the capital needed to implement 30-minute frequencies.
In addition to the need to expand its fleet to respond to increased service demands, Greenlink also recognizes the importance of expanding its fleet in an environmentally-conscious manner to counter local air quality concerns. The Proterra Catalyst vehicle produces zero tailpipe emissions. Additionally, by deploying Proterra Catalyst electric buses, Greenlink will reduce its overall energy consumption by decreasing the amount of energy required to move buses. By continuing its successful working partnership with Proterra, Greenlink can further its commitment to green energy initiatives while providing customers with better, more dependable service. With electric buses currently deployed in Seneca and Clemson, the Low-No grant also helps further the sustainability efforts of the region as a whole by building on green initiatives already present in neighboring communities.
“The Low-No grant provides us with the opportunity to simultaneously improve air quality and transform the perception of public transportation in Greenville with a modernized fleet,” said James Keel, Director of Transportation. “Coordinated with our ongoing efforts to implement the TDP, this fleet expansion will boost operational efficiency and reinforce Greenlink’s ability to connect people with employers, housing, education, healthcare, recreation and shopping opportunities.”
Greenlink received 58 letters of support for its grant application and a local financial commitment totaling $1,000,000. The grant is being matched with $600,000 from the Michelin Foundation, $300,000 from the GHA/PRISMA settlement and $100,000 from Hollingsworth Funds.